Every parent wants the very best for their child and hopes that the formative years of their life with be as idyllic as possible. However, the reality is that in today’s society, even very young children may struggle to cope with the demands of their day to day lives.
Causes of Stress
Stress occurs when the demands that have been placed on us outstrip our ability to meet them. Some stress is the result of outside forces, such as issues with friends or school, but stress can also be related to the things we feel guilty about not doing.
While it’s easy to see the causes of stress among older children dealing with exams, body issues and other societal pressures, it may be more difficult to appreciate that younger children may also be having a difficult time. Separation anxiety from parents during the school day, an awareness of frightening world events such as wars or terrorist attacks and instability in the family environment can all be contributing factors.
Reactions to Stress
If the level of stress in a child’s life gets too much, there is a danger they make seek out ways to find relief. While children who self-harm or abuse substances generally begin to do so in their teenage years, there is evidence to suggest the key factors that guide such decisions can take root far earlier. Studies suggest the first eight years of a child’s life are the most crucial in this respect.
If you’re dealing with addiction problems related to an older child or young adult, you may need to seek professional treatment. By far the most successful rehabilitation centers are those that recognize that drug or alcohol addiction often goes hand in hand with issues related to mental health. This means that, for treatment to be successful, it needs to adopt an integrated approach to tackle all the ongoing issues in a person’s life at the same time.
Tips for Reducing Stress
As a parent, it’s important to accept that you can’t entirely isolate your children from stress, but you can take steps to reduce its impact. Often the very best way to help your child is to ensure they know that you will always be available to them and ready to listen whenever they feel like talking about the issues they are facing. It isn’t unusual for children to say they don’t want to talk about the things that are bothering them and it’s important to accept that this may be the case. Simply keeping your child company and sharing in everyday activities can often be a source of huge comfort.
Some of the more obvious sources of stress – such as too many after-school activities – can be tackled, but resist the urge to try to deal with every single problem, focusing instead on teaching healthy coping strategies. You should also make sure your children are getting enough rest and the right nutrition.
Stress isn’t always a bad thing, and there are times when it is perfectly acceptable to feel angry or lonely or anxious, but preventing these feelings from becoming overwhelming will provide your child with a firm foundation from which to move forward in life.